If you haven’t read “The Lottery” lately, there’s never been a better time—especially if you, like me, enjoy feeling like you’re hearing your favorite dead writers weigh in on world events. Tomorrow is also the day the story’s titular lottery takes place each year, in case you need an extra nudge.
Smarter writers than I have drawn parallels between the story (“just a fable,” according to The New Yorker’s Kip Orr, tasked with responding to the many letters the story elicited) and the systematic cruelty of contemporary America. So let me just add: The villagers in the story—with the possible exception of lottery administrator Mr. Summers, who is at least open to the possibility of a new wooden lottery box—would not be down with the removal of public symbols of white supremacy.
With the character of Old Man Warner (the oldest man in town), Jackson anticipated with eerie precision, like, 50% of the people who comment on any Lit Hub Facebook post that suggests this country might want cool it on venerating known racists.
“Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while,” Old Man Warner says to the suggestion that some villages have done away with the lottery.
Listen, I’m not saying that the people who see the removal of Confederate statues as a grave social injustice would be totally cool with stoning one of their neighbors to death every year for the sake of tradition, but… okay, I am absolutely saying that.